The prestigious 2013 Pell Awards, presented for distinguished service to the arts, were presented last week to five very deserving people at the Trinity Repertory Theatre, with receptions for the honorees before and after the ceremonies at the elegant “new digs” of the Providence Public Library.
Edgewood resident Tony Estrella, artistic director of the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, was honored with the RI Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. Tony graduated from Trinity Rep Conservatory in 1995 and first began his tenure as an actor and director with Alias Stage, which became Gamm. He has appeared in more than 20 productions and directed many others. Gamm has grown considerably over the many years I have been reviewing, and I can honestly say that I have never seen a bad production at the theatre. The theatre’s increase in subscriptions, growing from 100 to well over 2,000, is a testament to that. Veteran actor and Gamm Board Chairman, Sam Babbitt presented Estrella with the award.
Brown graduate Kate Burton received the Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, presented by one of her mentors, Lowry Marshall. I presented Burton with a photo and a copy of my review of her excellent performance in Brown’s production of “The Seagull” in 1978.
Kate will be playing the same role next month, this time with her son, at the Huntington Theatre in Boston. She has not only had a long and distinguished career in the theatre but also has starred in a variety of roles on television and in the movies. She continues to be a major supporter of the Brown theatre program, in addition to her many charitable and advocacy endeavors.
The funniest moments of the evening were provided by John Krasinski, who graduated from Brown as an Honors Playwright and is best known for his nine-year tenure on the hit TV series, “The Office.” He recently wrote and starred in “The Promised Land,” one of my favorite films of 2012.
Joseph A. Chazan, M.D. was recognized for his Outstanding Leadership in the Arts for his generous work in supporting local artists and his donation of many art works to loval museums and institutions.
Martha Douglas-Osmundson received the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts for her leadership in involving hundreds of school children in the “Shakespeare in the City” program.